(By Iheanyi Ezinwo) – In a sustained demonstration of commitment to social responsibility to its hosts communities, the management of TotalEnergies has identified with the people of Egi kingdom in the Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni Local Government Area of Rivers State on the occasion of the Igwa Iji ceremony, to mark the beginning of the 2021 Egi new yam festival (Egwu- Ogba) at the palace of Eze Egi 111 ( Eze Ogba-Ukwu) of Ogbaland, His Royal Majesty, King (Prof.) Anele Uzondu Nwokoma at Erema on Sunday.
Speaking at the occasion, the Managing Director of Total Energies, Mr. Mike Sangster, lauded the King and people of Egi kingdom for flagging off the celebration of the sacred festival to commemorate the commencement of the harvest season which the new yam symbolizes. The managing director, who was represented by the Executive Director, Port Harcourt District, Mr. Obi Imemba, congratulated the Eze Egi 111 of Ogbaland and the entire people of Egi kingdom for a successful farming season whose first harvest they were celebrating.
The managing director described the Egwu – Ogba festival as cultural identity, and one of most elegant and prestigious cultural heritages that he has seen in the sub-Saharan Africa and the world over, even as he observed that, “culture is recognized as part of our diversity, and the celebration of the Egwu- Ogba festival has become part of our corporate calendar here in TEPNG, and our participation in the event every year remains our delight.
“The glamour of this festival goes a long way to confirming that Egi is blessed in farming, fishery, trading, culture, tradition, oil, gas, clay and above all, Egi is blessed with the good people we are seeing here today … One can go on to count the numerous blessings endowed in Egiland, which, as a corporate body, we are proud of, and happy to associate with and support”, he stressed, urging the people to earnestly guard the prevailing peace in the kingdom.
Mr. Mike Sangster further explained that, Total Energies, through her community Affairs, Projects, and Development Division was currently deploying her new vision of ensuring that community projects and programs were made more impactful to the catchment areas by putting in place systems and processes to verify, validate and complete on going projects and to encourage the MoU implementation committees to be more functional and alive to their duties.
“Going forward, we intend to build on past successes and streamline our future societal investment programs to embark on projects and programs that are community based, economically viable, and with sustainable impact on our communities”, he stated, disclosing that the company has concluded plans to commence the renegotiation of all their MoUs well in advance to ensure seamless transition of implementation come 2021.
Earlier in his welcome address, the President General of Egi Peoples Assembly, Ugochukwu Orikoha, had said that the Igwa Iji ceremony was part of the rich cultural heritage of Egi people, and that it flags off the eating of new yam in the kingdom. He described yam as the king of crops, hinting that it was their tradition to perform certain rites and ceremonies to mark the beginning of its consumption in the area.
In his own remarks at the ceremony, Eze Egi, King Anele Nwokoma applauded Total for contributing immensely to the development of Egi kingdom, and urged them to do more. The monarch also said that the festival was Egi peoples own feast of passover and new year.